30-08-2017 12:00 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
Nation’s highest sporting honor bestowed on deserving athletes
It was a special day for Devendra Jhaharia when he became the first para athlete to receive India’s highest sporting honor – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. Hockey player Sardar Singh was also the recipient of this prestigious award. The award was bestowed on the athletes by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday which was also celebrated as National Sports Day.
Javelin thrower Jhajharia created world records while winning both his Paralympic gold medals in the 2004 Athens Games and 2016 Rio Paralympics. He is the only Indian to win two Paralympic gold medals.
The 36-year-old Jhajharia while stating that it was a historic day for Indian para athletes stressed the need for better support for the para athletes by the state government. He urged for separate grounds with facilities such as ramps and easy movements for wheelchair-bound athletes and blinds.
Star mid-fielder Sardar Singh has steered India to many victories in last few years. He had become India's youngest captain when he led the side at the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the age of 22. Although he was embroiled in a sexual assault controversy, he emerged clean out of it to focus more on the game and win more matches for India.
The President also honored 17 players with the Arjuna Award of which two players – Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Bhati are para athletes.